Self-awareness is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Ye reports on new research from Osaka City University, which finds that cleaner wrasses pass the fabled mirror self-recognition test. These humble fish, therefore, join a growing list of animals that pass the test. The list also includes some of the apes, elephants, dolphins and even ants. But the vast majority of animals fails. The jury remains out on even the gorilla. Not every scientist in the field accepts the cleaner wrasse research. Whether correct or not, however, it once again poses the question, what does the test show anyway? If even pigeons and ants pass it, then maybe self-awareness is pretty basic. Yet, the majority of animals that pass it are amongst the most intelligent – humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, dolphins and elephants. The coincidence appears too great; surely it cannot that basic. Or maybe pigeons and ants are much brighter than we think. The mystery remains.

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